I don't remember when I first heard this album, mainly because it became such a massive part of my life so quickly it seemed like it had always been there. Timelessly enjoyable and just great listening. The only negative about owning this what is fair to call nothing short of a masterpiece is that it makes a large chunk of your album collection obsolete for quite a long time. An absolute classic must have.
This is an astoundingly good album! on the first few listens, it feels light and catchy. As you listen more you begin to appreciate the quirky humour, clever rhymes and the thoughtful sentiments. It really represents the whole gamut of love, warts and all: romance,passion, boredom, despair- the list goes on. It's a real mix of styles: eighties synth pop, Dylanesque folk, Beach Boys surf guitar, country, rock, punk, and old Irish folk. At times is sounds like Johnny Cash playing erasure whilst listening to fleetwood mack and Roy Orbison.
This album is so seriously, seriously good. I bought it about four years ago and still listen to it most weeks and still get something new each time! The perfect travelling companion - it is always relevant. Also, the songs are perfect pop - they're all pretty short so if there's one you don't like, relax - there'll be another another along in a minute.
Of all the sixty nine songs - I'd say about twenty were absolute classics, about 6 or 7 are fillers. All the rest are simply very, very good.
Best line: I always say "I love you" when I mean "turn out the light" - I think I need a new heart. - How's that for pithy, witty and sad all in one simple line?
after hearing so much about the album and like so many others - bought it on the strength of the reviews.
However, it was not how i first expected it to sound - "grandiose" - "masterpiece" and "perfect" are all words used to describe this album so I had very very high expectations of this album and was not prepared for the lo-fi approach to the production. I expected sweeping ochestration, joyous choruses, operatics and a perfect pop production finish to it. So i had quite a suprise when i first put on the CD.
It was low key, a little mundane and not at all what would normally be regarded as "pop" (obviously the short nature of the songs and catchy ditties allow for this pigeon holeing - but it is not accessible music to most people).
so i listened for around 5 songs before my ears picked out something akin to what i was expecting and thought maybe i had bout a dud - despite the reviews. anyway i plodded on through the discs and stuck it on the mp3 - then it came into its own. the long bus journeys to work provided an excellent chance to get to grips with the nature of the music and the massive content.
i was soon hooked speaking enthusiastically to my colleagues about a song called "a chicken with its head cut off" - humming the tune all day long.
it took a while for it sink in but everything that has been said in previous reviews is correct - it is a joy of an album, expansive, experimental, fun, and amazing, complete with witty intelligent and sometimes heart achingly beautiful lyrics.
i cannot add anything further to the high acclaim it has been given - it is a fantastic record and everyone should give it a go - all i wanted to touch on is that this is not commercial, accessible music as one may be lead to believe by reading such high reviews.
the best idea i can give you is to imagine stuart staples of the tindersticks in a good mood, singing with a simplified divine comedy, but with production similar to that of Guided By Voices. The latter comparison i think is a good one for people familiar with the stuff by GBV - i reckon that if you like wading through GBV's 45 songs per album picking out the un-polished gems - then you'll love this.
overall 5 stars. but i just cant help wondering what it would be like with a far more grandisoe procuction, a full sweeping orchestra or more elaborate instrumentation. maybe it would take waway its charm, or would it take it to another level...?
...but all of it is astonishing. I've never posted a review online before & doubt I ever will again. 2 yrs after getting it I still can't leave it alone for more than a couple of weeks. Each of the 3 CDs would stand up as a great album in its own right; to have the 3 as one combined work is just mindblowing. Everything about it is controlled down to the last detail - even to each CD being within a whisker of 60 mins - yet every track is independent spirited. I love this so much that I can't bear to recommend it to people I know in case they don't adore it & then I have to pretend they no longer exist.
So do me a favour. Buy this album. Just don't tell me you bought it, OK?
This album is so good that when you start listening to it you'll feel really annoyed at yourself for not having discovered it much sooner. Be honest - how many things on the Amazon site have got so many positive reviews? Even the "worst" review gives it three stars! Trust in the fact that there's a good reason for all this praise and buy it, now.